Activity: Dr Google responds

Transversal Skills:
Creative and critical thinking
Learning to learn
Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills

Teaching- Learning Approach:

Problem-based learning (PBL)

   Miller Pyramid

Learning outcomes

By the end of the activity, students should be able to:

  • Know the sources of information and databases in health sciences and carry out a bibliographic search
  • Analyse and synthesise the retrieved information to respond to the pre-set objectives
  • Integrate theoretical knowledge related to innovation and communication technologies (ICTs) and apply it to real situations in professional practice

As regards transversal skills, students should be able to:

Interpersonal and socio-emotional skills:

  • Express ideas clearly and fluently
  • Use precise and descriptive/content-specific vocabulary to enhance the topic or message
  • Share information in an organised and interesting way
  • Share an analysis of the main message to interpret, synthesise and/or evaluate the meaning of the content in order to draw a logical conclusion about the topic
  • Show empathy and use non-verbal communication and active listening
  • Perform tasks efficiently and carefully
  • Persevere in the face of difficulties
  • Develop positive and emotionally safe interaction and develop and co-create teamwork
  • Work cooperatively with others
  • Develop an empathetic leadership by understanding the needs of others and being aware of their feelings and thoughts, and to facilitate collaborative and participatory problem-solving
  • Create a non-discrimination atmosphere
  • Facilitate conflict resolution, remain calm under pressure, and control one’s emotions in conflict situations

Critical and creative thinking:

  • Identify and deal creatively with unexpected, unforeseen, and complex situations that can be exploited, and to evaluate different solutions
  • Acquire, process, produce, and evaluate information critically and from the perspectives of different fields and decisions, taking into account both individual and community perspectives
  • Question norms, practices, and opinions, and to reflect on own one’s values, perceptions and actions
  • Develop innovative solutions to answer different questions and to create new and worthwhile ideas; elaborate and evaluate ideas in order to improve and maximise their creative efforts

Learning to learn:

  • Self-report one’s feelings, thoughts, and effort concerning a certain task in order to perform tasks more effectively
  • Identify learning outcomes, relate them to prior knowledge, and manage her/his own learning process
  • Plan, monitor and assess one’s understanding and performance on a certain task
  • Use prior knowledge to plan a strategy for approaching a new task, and to transfer what they have learned from one context to another, or from a previous task to a new task


Brief description of the activity

This problem is devised for students to learn more about the appropriation of new ICTs and the use of mobile health applications in the health sector and its consequences, at individual level. Students are also expected to reflect on the current context of access to information and knowledge acquisition in health issues, considering the amount of information currently available on the internet. 


Activity plan: step by step


Before the activity

1. Problem definition: 

For this activity, we will use an initial situation called “Dr. Google responds”. Here is the case: 

Andrea and Marc are surprised, as they have just realised that their daughter, Maria, has been doing repeated Google searches on cardiovascular problems. It is true that since she was given a smartwatch for her 13th birthday, the girl has not stopped monitoring everything she does: the kilometres she walks, the calories she burns and the hours she sleeps. She is happy because she has lost weight, but her parents don’t like it, much less her obsession with her “healthy” habits. They are concerned, because recently an article about cyberchondria was shared in the parents’ whatsapp group, and they demanded that schools should work more on health issues such as this.   

2. Students and activity organisation of the activity. 

Students will be asked to work in small groups, between 6 to 8 students. Each group will be assigned a tutor who will monitor them throughout the process.

This activity is scheduled to last approximately 5 weeks, although this timing can be adapted according to the needs of the institution, course or group.

The activity consists of a set of follow-up tutorials, in which the group and tutor meet to share progress and define next steps, followed by periods of autonomous work where the group can meet and work collaboratively according to the agreements made during the follow-up sessions.  A work plan example is presented below:


Day 0

Team Session 1 

(2 hours)

Autonomous work

Team Session 2

(2 hours)

Autonomous work

Team Session 3 / Presentation

Presentation of the activity and general organisation

Presentation of the working groups (random assignment is recommended)

Presentation of additional information and support materials 

Presentation of the problem (video) and brainstorming

Identification of group learning objectives

Drawing up a work plan

Establishment of group agreements and role distributions

Bibliographic search on the study phenomenon



Sharing and discussion of the group’s findings

Selection of relevant information according to pre-defined learning objectives

Agreements on written report and task distribution

Elaboration of conclusions for the final report 

Approach to the final presentation

Synthesis of the work done 

Final report delivery 

Oral presentation

Discussion with tutor and other groups, if possible.

Self-evaluation of teamwork



Things to take into account prior to the activity:


  1. Context. You should decide how many teams you will build, the number of students in each team, how to sort students into teams, and whether you need to facilitate students with resources to help them solve the problem.
  2. Materials necessary for its implementation. The room(s) in which the activity takes place should allow the different teams to sit in a group and work collaboratively. If one room is not enough, you should make sure that you have more than one room available. These should also be equipped with audiovisual hardware in order to watch the video. Decide whether students need to bring their laptops during the tutoring sessions and, if that is the case, make sure that the rooms have enough plugs.
  3. Human resources necessary for its implementation. You should have as many teachers as groups you will build, and they should be alienated in terms of PBL knowledge, facilitation and conflict-management skills, and evaluation. You should also decide which tutor will assume a coordinating role, and define how you will support each other.


During the activity

The key elements of the development of the activity are described below: 

The follow-up sessions

There will be a total of three follow-up sessions, all face-to-face, which will be planned during university hours to facilitate attendance.

1st session

  • Alignment of group members and creation of the team.
  • Presentation of the situation (short description of the case)
  • Brainstorm the most noteworthy elements read (these can be written on a blackboard).
  • Elaboration of open questions for the identification of knowledge needs and research interests by the team
  • Prioritisation of questions and selection of those that the team wants to investigate
  • Creation of starting hypotheses (they can be several and are prioritised at the end).
  • Orientation of the bibliographic search
  • Work plan (students propose how to structure the work).

The students must end the tutorial by reaching agreements on the tasks to be completed for the next tutorial.

2nd session

  • Organization of the team: Review of the agreements made in the last session and assessment of the situation of the team regarding the work.
  • Provision by each student of the results obtained from the bibliographic sources consulted and exchange and discussion of information.
  • Selection and prioritisation of information according to its relevance to respond to the defined objectives.
  • Consensus of a structure of relevant content to the preparation of the written report
  • Resolution of conflicts, if any.

3rd session

  • Oral presentation of teamwork (between 15 and 20 minutes), preferably in an open session with other groups.
  • Open speaking session and discussion of conclusions

To be done only with the group and the tutor:

  • Feedback activity in which all members participate, including teachers.
  • Indications for co-evaluation and self-evaluation

The final report

At the end of the activity, all the groups will have to deliver a report that sets out the objectives and initial hypotheses, the working method used, the results obtained from the bibliographic search and the genuine discussion of the group.

This document must have a short length, between 6,000 and 7,000 words, and must portray the learning process carried out by the group. This report will be submitted by the end of the activity. 

Oral presentations

The oral presentation will last between 15 and 20 minutes and will be held in an open manner with other groups that also carried out the activity, to promote the exchange of ideas. Afterwards, there will be a round of questions and dialogue around the projects presented in which both students and teachers will be able to participate. The defence of the project may have audiovisual support, or whatever the group deems most appropriate.


After the activity

Once the activity is finished and the last session (oral presentation) is done, it is time for evaluation. Below there is a proposal of evaluation strategies, although these can be adapted according to the needs of the institution, course or group.

  • Tutor evaluation: It consists of an assessment carried out by the tutor and which can be collective or individual. This must take into account the different outcomes provided by the group (report and oral presentation), as well as the learning process shown in the follow-up sessions
  • Self-evaluation: Evaluation where each member of the group evaluates his/her own contribution to the group dynamics
  • Co-evaluation: Evaluation where each member of the group evaluates the contribution to the group dynamics of the different members
  • Peer-review: Evaluation where each group receives the final report of another group (anonymized) and evaluates it qualitatively. This evaluation will then be sent to the group that prepared the work. This activity promotes critical thinking, as well as the preparation of constructive feedback.


Role of teacher(s)

Teachers, in the role of group tutors, must adopt a facilitation role throughout the process. This implies that their function will not be to provide theoretical knowledge or define how the group should act, but rather to accompany the group, facilitate questioning and help the group move towards its goals. Tutors must also intervene in the case of undesired or disrespectful behaviour within the group, and they must mediate in the resolution of conflicts that may appear.

Finally, it will be the responsibility of the tutor(s) to evaluate the learning process and the final result of the group, which will be combined with the self-assessments completed by the group itself.

Evaluation tool

Transversal skills are difficult to evaluate, particularly among big groups of students. Therefore, in this section we propose a tool for students to self-assess the development of these skills. The tool is divided into three dimensions: suitability of the learning activity, level of achievement of learning outcomes, and transferability to professional settings. You can adapt the dimensions and/or indicators that you use according to your teaching-learning context and needs. 


Evaluation tool to self-assess the development of skills during the activity

For each of the following statements, select the best answer on a scale from 1 to 4, where 1 means “Not at all” and 4 indicates “Yes, totally”. N/A means “not applicable”.

  1 2 3 4 N/A
DIMENSION 1. Suitability of the learning activity
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of time          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of resources (material resources, physical space, etc.)          
I found this learning activity adequate in terms of content          
I found this learning activity engaging          
I found this learning activity challenging          
I found this learning activity disruptive in comparison with other learning methodologies          
I found this learning activity useful to learn [add the subject]          
I found this learning activity useful to retain knowledge          
This learning activity motivated me to deepen my knowledge of [add subject or hard skill]          
This learning activity allowed me to feel emotions that would be rather difficult to experience with other learning methodologies          
I would recommend this learning activity to others          
DIMENSION 2. Level of achievement of learning outcomes
This learning activity helped me to improve… 
…my ability to [add a row for each learning outcome of the activity that you performed, both related to hard and transversal skills]          
DIMENSION 3. Transferability to professional settings
After this learning activity…
…I will be better able to apply what I learned to my reality (everyday life, classroom, professional life)          
…I feel more capable to perform in a professional setting          
…I feel I can make better choices regarding professional situations          
…I feel more prepared and self-confident to address professional situations          

OPEN QUESTION – Use this space to explain whatever you think is remarkable from the learning activity, including strengths, weaknesses, improvements, potential uses, feelings or dilemmas you encountered during the activity. 




Download evaluation tool in pdf here.




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Our Score
           Author / Creator

      Nathália Rosa

      Mar Carrió


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